This Q&A has been developed to provide guidance to certificate holders and certification bodies with regards to the Measures to Strengthen the Cocoa Sector.
This Q&A makes reference to requirements in the Policy For Farm And Chain Of Custody Certification In Cocoa In West Africa published in April 2020 and updated May 2021.
More information on the Audit Allocation system can be found here.
For questions about the use of the new Rainforest Alliance certification seal on cocoa products, please visit FAQ: New Rainforest Alliance Certification Seal.
Lifting of the pause on new groups joining the Rainforest Alliance certification program
What is the status on the pause on new cocoa groups in West Africa?
Per July 1, 2021 the pause on new groups joining our certification program in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria will be lifted. From this date on, groups that were not previously certified against our programs can become certified against the new 2020 Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. You can read more about this here.
Will there be a cap on group growth for groups going through the transition audits against the 2020 Rainforest Alliance Farm standard?
Yes there is a cap on the growth in group membership for Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire only. The details of this can be found in clause 1.4 of the Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa V2.
- For groups with less than 2000 producers, the total number of certified producers in a group shall only grow by 30% over the whole certification year in comparison to the total number of certified producers in the previous certification year (certification audit and/or extension audit).
- Groups with more than 2000 producers shall only grow by 10% over the whole certification year in comparison to the total number of certified producers in the previous certification year (certification audit and/or extension audit)
What are the current geolocation data requirements for cocoa groups in West Africa?
For all transition audits i.e. from 1st July 2021 – 30th June 2022, the requirements of the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard Farm Requirements apply, as well as the additional requirements of the Cocoa Policy V2.
For Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire:
- For year 1 of certification (1 July 2022–30 June 2023), geolocation data is available for 100% of all farm units, of which at least 30% is in the form of polygons. This is an acceleration of requirement 1.2.14 L1 in the RA 2020 Sustainable Agricultural Standard.
- In year 4 (start of second certification cycle), Polygons are available for 100% of the farm units. This is an acceleration of requirement 1.2.15 L2 in the RA 2020 Sustainable Agricultural Standard
There are no additional requirements for Nigeria and Cameroon than those of the Standard.
Which specific governmental ID is being requested in the Group Member Registry (GMR)?
All groups need to indicate in the new GMR template (Annex S13) the National ID of each group member which has this information available..
For Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana specifically, groups also need to indicate in the GMR the number of group members which are in possession of a National ID. There is also a minimum requirement for each country. For Côte d’Ivoire, groups must indicate the National ID number of at least 30% of their group members. For Ghana this is 20%
Auditors will check the accuracy of the information in the GMR during the audit and raise a non-conformity if any discrepancy is found between what is indicated therein and what is cross-checked at producer level. The auditor will also raise a non-conformity if, during the audit, it is found that a group member is in possession of a national ID and that this was not indicated in the registry.
- Groups need to indicate the personal ID number of group members which is shown on the Ghana Card. Therefore the number indicated in the GMR shall be the 13 digit number under ‘personal ID number’ as shown on the front side of the card.
These are the options for groups:
- If the group member is in possession of the new national identity card (Carte Nationale d’Identité – CNI), the NNI (Numero National d’Identification) on the flip side of the card must be indicated.
- If the group member is not yet in possession of the new identity card (CNI), the “numéro d’immatriculation” which can be found either on the old National Identity card (Carte Nationale d’Identité) or on the voter’s card (Carte d’électeur), must be indicated.
- For non-Ivorian group members, the GMR needs to show the number indicated on their residency card (Carte consulaire for Burkina Faso and NINA for Mali)).
Groups need to use the 11-digit National Identity Number (NIN) in the GMR for their group members. The NIN can be found on the National Identity Number slip issued to every citizen who has enrolled with the national identity management commission.
Any of the ancient, provisory or new national ID formats will be accepted in the GMR for group members.
What should be indicated in the group member registry if group members do not possess or have lost their ID card? Or if the only proof of identity available is different than the one requested by Rainforest Alliance?
If some group members do not yet have the National Government ID or the proof of identity as indicated by the Rainforest Alliance, then this cell should be left blank for that group member only (Column O – 15. National ID Number). However, groups are expected to get those group members to start the administrative process as soon as possible to obtain their government ID. For further guidance on this, consult the Rainforest Alliance Instructions and Clarifications for Certified Groups in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire on Implementing the Cocoa Policy
How will the audit allocation work for the audit season starting 1st July 2021?
The audit allocation process will be in effect for all new and existing cocoa farm certificate holders in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana from the 1st July 2021..
In order to be allocated for the October 2021 harvest, all cocoa groups in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana must have already registered on the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform It is essential that registration is done thoroughly to ensure that groups receive the correct contextualized checklist for their operations. This will ensure thorough preparation is done by the groups prior to their audit. Once groups have registered and been approved by the Rainforest Alliance, they will be allocated to an approved Certification Body. Communication to both groups and Certification Bodies on the allocation process will begin in June and continue until all groups have been allocated. The audit sample and duration of audits will be adjusted according to the CH’s risk level.
New groups and groups with licenses expiring before September 30th, 2021, will be prioritized for both audit allocation and audits. To know more about the allocation process, please refer to the Cocoa Policy V2, Chapter 3.3
Cocoa policy version 2.0
Has there been any update of the Cocoa Policy?
Yes on 1st May 2021, the Rainforest Alliance published Version 2 of the Policy for Farm and Supply Chain Certification in Cocoa. This policy is applicable for all transition audits of both existing and new cocoa groups taking place from 1st July 2021 – 30th June 2022.
When will the current traceability systems, GIP and Marketplace, be migrated to Multitrace for cocoa?
We will have a traceability system that supports the proposed interventions in current UTZ and RA cocoa by October 2020. This includes allowing for regional mass balance, seal use and approvals, shared responsibility and other elements of the 2020 cocoa strategy. The exact timelines for migration are still to be finalized but do not impact our capacity to implement these interventions.
Certificate Holder Risk Assessment
Why was the Certificate Holder risk assessment developed and who does it apply to?
The Certificate Holder risk assessment was developed in Q2 of 2020 by Rainforest Alliance and is applicable for all producer groups operating in both Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The purpose of the risk assessment is for Rainforest Alliance to better prioritize assurance strengthening activities. The risk assessment categorizes producer groups into five different risk levels based on the potential risks of non-compliance with our standard. The RA audit allocation process uses the certificate holder risk assessment to determine the most appropriate CB to conduct the audit.
Stronger risk assessment is a core element of the new Rainforest Alliance certification system that will become mandatory in July 2021.
In the upcoming months, we will also develop a certificate holder risk assessment for supply chain actors based in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
How was the Certificate Holder risk assessment developed and on the basis on which criteria?
The risk assessment was developed based on reliable data of Certificate Holders held in our system related to the following risk factors:
- Group size
- Average yield estimate
- Certified volumes
- Group growth
- Decertification and non-certification in the last two years
- Quality of audit in the last two years.
- Risk score given by the Rainforest Alliance audit report reviewer
- Risks linked to deforestation and geolocation
- Any complaints received about the group
The data for each risk factor is calculated to determine the risk level for each certificate holder.
How often is the risk assessment updated?
The risk assessment per certificate holder is determined before their audit allocation. The risk assessment of certificate holders will be revisited periodically as new information is received including the results of the next audit. For this reason, a certificate holders’ risk level can change and effective actions to ensure compliance with standard criteria will result in a lower risk score.
My group's risk assessment level is high, what is the impact?
When a group’s risk level is high, the audit of this group will be allocated to those CBs that have the highest performance level within the certification program in the relevant geographic location. The group will also receive more monitoring from RA. The purpose of this is to give groups with a high risk of non-conformity the opportunity to identify areas for improvement in implementing the standard and progress even more on the continuous improvement journey.
The Rainforest Alliance is introducing a mandatory Sustainability Differential under our new 2020 Certification program. To find out more, please visit our Supply Chain FAQ. Detailed information about the Sustainability Differential for cocoa, including a Q&A section, is available here.